Formative Distortion: Does God Really Hate the Gays?
By: Christopher Donaldson
Who decides what’s right or wrong?
We all know the Bible appraises self-worth according to strict sets of laws and hierarchies: Go to Hell if you covet the neighbor’s house, kill the neighbor, or take off with the neighbor’s wife.
It runs moral meanings smooth over broken fine lines that fall somewhere between fact and fiction and good and evil. God still hates figs and shrimp, right?
It also often hides contradiction and its very own accommodating history under stories that once upon a time were not its own: Remember, Christmas and Easter grew from Pagan roots.
Unfortunately for us, the Bible and people's interpretations of it can brew misguided thoughts about homosexuality. But it does deserve our attention. Its words read just like modern humans behave: We wake hand-in-hand with dissension; we evolve, yet still keep patterns of judgment close. And we all at some point in time ask, “Where did we come from? What’s the point?”
So where do the gays go from here?
Well, former United Methodist minister and Duke University seminary scholar, Jimmy Creech, suggests that maybe it’s time we re-evaluate what the Bible really says about homosexuality.
In Adam's Gift: A Memoir of a Pastor’s Calling to Defy the Church’s Persecution of Lesbians and Gays, straight-identifying Creech defends same-sex love against the Church’s dangerous distortion of homosexuality as sin. He digs deep into Biblical texts, mines credible sense from scripture and history, and writes passionately about his decision to reconcile his stance on gay rights and same-sex marriage even though these things ultimately led the Church to revoke his ordination credentials.
What would Jesus do? Jimmy Creech might know.
Does the Bible condemn homosexuality?
Another issue at play is patriarchal culture. Men are considered the masters (the Hebrew for husband actually means “lord”) and women are inferior and subservient. Consequently, for a man to have sex with another man as men have sex with women violates the rigid gender roles and threatens the patriarchal culture. Such an act puts the submissive man in the woman’s role which from the biblical perspective is “abominable.” Interestingly, there’s only one biblical reference to women having sex with women (chapter one of Romans), most likely because the writers of the Bible (men) weren’t concerned about that – it didn’t threaten their patriarchal culture.
The few references to same-gender sexual acts have thus been interpreted and used in ways to justify the persecution of LGBT people. In similar ways, passages in the Bible were interpreted in ways to justify slavery, white supremacy and racial segregation. The Bible denies equal rights to women because of its patriarchy and allowed the persecution and mass murder of Jews. Modern society has rejected the misuse of the Bible to justify these injustices even though each case is a form of abuse. Using the Bible to justify the persecution of LGBT people is no less an abuse and can no longer be tolerated. It’s intellectually dishonest, pure bigotry.
you explain how the word “homosexual” is misused in Biblical texts?
Aquinas was the first church teacher to associate the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with same-sex acts. Before then, the destruction was attributed to the violent inhospitality and greed of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. A similar thing happened when the Revised Standard Version of the Bible was published in 1952. Instead of using “a man who has sex with a man,” or the King James version, “them that defile themselves with mankind,” or Sodomites, the translators chose to use the modern term homosexual – even though there was no basis for it in biblical languages. Consequently, people who do not know this history innocently claim that the Bible says “homosexuals can’t inherit the kingdom of heaven” because First Corinthians says so; and, that “homosexuals” are contrary to sound doctrine.
While careful study of these passages reveals no condemnation of same-sex loving relationships, the mass of people who read these passages without the benefit of careful study feel justified in condemning homosexuals. The harm that has been done to LGBT people by this scandalous scholarship cannot be exaggerated.
you think Christianity will eventually embrace LGBT people in the future,
however near or far?
Even though the ecclesiastical leadership of the Roman Catholic Church remains adamantly against sexually active LGBT people, more than 74% of Catholic laity support same-sex marriage or civil unions with support for their full civil rights and equal protections. There will be some who will never accept same-sex relationships, but they belong to the past of fear and hatred, not the future of acceptance and equality.
What do you say to non-believers, atheists and agnostics? Do you see
religion as something essential and necessary to humanity’s place in the
Being religious doesn’t guarantee a person will be good, nor does being a non-believer make a person bad. These are just two ways humans approach the mysteries of life. But, I do believe everyone who is aware and sensitive to what’s happening in the world, in their lives and the lives of others, has a keen sense of wonder and awe about it all. What really matters is how we treat each other.
is about the United Methodist Church's decision to revoke your
ordination credentials after you performed same-sex commitment ceremonies.
But what do you think the real gift was for you?
do you feel about Christianity’s position in US politics? It’s sad, but a
holier than thou attitude still marginalizes the LGBT community.
do you think we can change the way other people less understanding think
about LGBT people?
In addition, those of us who are straight must challenge anti-gay bigotry and malice whenever we encounter it and challenge elected officials who perpetuate persecution. An unjust world belongs to all of us, and all of us have an obligation to end the injustice.